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Can you afford Unified Communications?

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Yes you can her Manish Sablok tells you how !

The advantages of implementing a Unified Communications (UC) solution – for customers, business partners, employees and not forgetting the IT department – are well documented. It's all about the ability to collaborate anywhere, using any device, at any time.  

UC is often hailed as a great enabler of mobility and BYOD, and it enables a highly mobile and connected workforce – something which many businesses are striving for, as agile and responsive employees equal a more responsive, competitive business. 

UC is changing the game and it's more than just mobility

But many organisations believe that these advantages are way beyond their budgets, and require changing their existing infrastructure.

The revolutions in consumer technology and social platforms are driving the changes in the way we now expect to be able to communicate and collaborate in our work lives. Both private individuals and your staff  know which communication tool is appropriate for a given task  – whether that's email, video, audio, instant messaging or document sharing.

What they need is to be able to collaborate and share information with customers, partners and employees using the right tool, using the most appropriate device in a Bring Your Own Devise world.

Rather than ignoring the power and potential of these tools, or ignoring the risks of having corporate data on unsecured devices, businesses need to embrace the principle while taking control of the process. 

Here, Manish Sablok, Head of Marketing for Central, North and East Europe at Alcatel-Lucent Enterprise explains how advances in Unified Comms deployment and cloud technologies offering UC-as-a-Service is enabling UC to become a reality for organisations previously excluded due to the cost of the initial investment.

Enter UC, the enabler. But is the entry cost is too high?

Capex vs. Opex – the debate rolls on

Businesses and IT departments continue to debate which approach is best – a Capex or an Opex model. While cloud delivery has certainly begun to level the playing field for gaining access to UC tools, the key is for businesses to recognise that differences in business needs or the business processes should be dictating whether in-house with standard hardware is best or hosted UC is most appropriate – or indeed a hybrid approach.

The cloud approach – with a pay as you go model

Contemporary cloud solutions now offer greater choice to businesses, with consumption-based pricing models allowing them to only pay for what they need. This has effectively reduced the levels of up-front investment required and significantly reduced the entry barrier to UC. This is resulting in SMEs being in a better position to implement UC and compete with larger organisations.

One of the key advantages for many businesses looking to implement UC through the cloud is the level of scalability it offers, which can afford businesses the ability to operate a lean service with no wasted resources or under-used assets. The consumption-based model is well suited to a situation where a business needs to scale up its UC solution to meet growth or as a business, traditionally sees fluctuating levels of demand. Both the speed of implementation and its simplicity compared to on-premise solutions are also likely to be determining factors when planning for UC, as it avoids costly or lengthy infrastructure upgrades.

Virtualisation

Virtualisation is also one of the advances making UC-as-a-Service simpler, faster and more cost efficient for businesses to implement. By using one single server with a number of applications in a virtualised environment, it's possible to replace the need for multiple physical servers, which introduces significant cost savings with a streamlined network architecture.

But cloud is not the answer for everyone

While cloud delivery may meet the requirements of many organisations, the benefits must be weighed up against lack of internal control over sensitive financial, business and customer data. The compliance of cloud services to specific regulations are also a concern for companies in markets or geographies that operate more stringent regulations and who have a legal responsibility to protect their data.

An on-premise UC solution also is not reliant on the speed of development offered by a cloud service provider – and as a result these businesses can customise their on-premise solution to meet specific application requirements.

And of course for some business, a Capex model is simply the preferred solution

But isn't UC too expensive? NO...

Innovations in technology have reduced the costs of UC and are enabling communications solutions to be delivered cost-effectively with either deployment model, from customer premise to the cloud.

As previously mentioned, cloud delivery now offers choice and flexibility in terms of expenditure, but even opting for an in-house UC solution should not require a full rip and replace upgrade. Choosing the right technology solution will give a company the option to leverage their existing communications infrastructure, protecting existing investments while integrating new devices, services and UC applications. By developing this technology using open standards, different operating systems and device types are easily supported. Our own OpenTouch solution offers a flexible model that utilise SIP, and can therefore work seamlessly in multi-vendor environments.

The decision is yours

UC is now a cost effective deployment model either in the cloud or on-premise. So whether you opt for an Opex or Capex model, it really depends on what your business goals are both on and off the balance sheet, as to the route you take.

It is business needs that should be driving the decisions concerning technology and delivery models, not just price. All available through resellers dealers and partners